November 15, 2019

The Case For Sustainable Furniture

With everyone’s focus directed towards the big industries of fossil fuels, coal, vehicle emissions among many others, we tend to forget the cumulative impact we have as individuals on the environment, and in this blog, we will examine how we can mititage our modern-day consumption of furniture, and the case against ‘disposable furniture’ that is akin to fast fashion.

While we can take action in regard to how we dispose our furniture and whether or not it goes into landfill or get recycled, but what we should really be doing is to begin at the start and choose furniture that is sustainable and recyclable in order to reduce the amount of waste we produce.

A large amount of our furniture and household items contain potentially dangerous substances and chemicals which can be linked to long term health issues as well as on the environment. The mass amount of wood used to create items such as desks, cupboards, tables and the like comes from unethical sources which contributes to the high magnitude of environmental damage, carbon dioxide as well as people’s livelihoods.

Thanks to the growing amount of exposure and awareness surrounding these issues we can now do our research and understand what materials are sustainable as well as whether or not they have been sustainably sourced. When shopping for sustainable furniture we don’t just want items that contain recyclable products, it goes a bit deeper than that. Some questions you may want to ask are :

  • Does the fabric contain dangerous chemicals?
  • How much waste was produced in order to manufacture the product?
  • Is the wood sustainably sourced AND managed?
  • Will the item last or will it have to continue being replaced or repaired which causes excess waste?

The Good Wood

When it comes to purchasing wooden products, we already know wood is recyclable, but there are other factors that we need to take into consideration. We have a general understanding of responsible deforestation, but we need to make a conscious effort to recycle the timber we don’t use and replace the trees we do in order to keep our carbon dioxide levels down. When we think about deforestation, we generally think replacing the trees we use and that’s that, but many companies greed surpasses their environmental consciousness. Companies such as Ethnicraft are highly aware of the impact it has on our environment therefore doing as much as they can to ensure minimal impact during their process from start to finish. We not only need to replace the trees we use, but also source wood that ensures no ecological damage is done to the surrounding environment including livelihoods, flora and fauna. Wood will continue to remain more advantageous over other industrial materials such as concrete or steel due to the fact it requires less energy-intensive methods during production, so when shopping around always do you research and make sure your wood passes FSC standards. Ethnicraft not only is FSC approved but recycle their own leftover pieces as well as use reclaimed timber from neglected buildings or old warehouses, which in turn reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfill.

Green Fabrics

Talking upholstery. Our fabric is usually something we don’t think about when it comes to our household items and whether or not they are sustainable. Most of the fabrics we use are dyed and contain chemicals to assist the fabric with stand wear and tear, but one underestimated fabric we use here at Öopenspace is Mainline Flax. A re-engineered fabric composed using environmentally sensitive flax fibre found inside the stem of a plant. The blend of wool and fibres produce an inherently flame-retardant fabric without the need for any chemical treatments.

One of the most environmentally beneficial building materials we can purchase would be concrete. Firstly, not only is concrete recyclable, it is initially made with predominately limestone, which is the most abundant mineral on earth, not only that but Bentu items are crafted from recycled concrete to begin with. Bentu sources their concrete from construction and demolition sites and factories throughout China, which eliminates the amount of concrete and rubbish going into landfill. Due to the durability of solid concrete the need for repair and replacement is slim to none, so not only is concrete sustainably produced but is made to last.

Adaptable Furniture

Movisi allows you to explore a different way of living with sustainable design. Sustainability, creativity and versatility is the basis of Movisi’s elements. Being infinitely versatile; from shelving, partitions, planters to even the possibility of creating different spaces. Made from EPP which is 95% air and 5% polypropylene these elements are 100% recyclable, toxin-free, emission free and are wrapped with minimal packaging. “It is about living with quality, not quantity and of furniture that are made to last – this reducing waste and dispelling the common mindset of disposable furniture.” Available as links and build elements in a range of colours, these elements are so versatile they can be used inside or outside, requiring only a few minutes and no tools required. These are the ultimate solution to sustainable storage matters.

With all these factors taken into account there is lots to consider when making your furniture selection. Initially, purchasing items that are durable, long-lasting and have less of an environmental impact tend to have a higher initial cost. However, if durable, require little maintenance and better for our environment the cost will be worth it in the long haul. So before making your decision take into account the behind the scenes factors and ensure our social, economic and ecological needs are met for today and for the future.

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